A pacemaker is a small electronic device that is implanted in people with heart problems, but what exactly does it consist of and how does it work? Next, we explain it in more detail, as well as some other important considerations to take into account.
When is the use of a pacemaker necessary?
Naturally, the heart receives electrical impulses generated by our own organism and they are the ones that indicate the rhythm to which it should beat, so that every time an impulse arrives, the heart contracts and beats, pumping blood throughout the body.
However, due to some pathologies and diseases, these impulses may occur more slowly or more quickly than normal, or at an irregular rhythm, causing what is known as arrhythmia. It can even happen in some cases that some of those impulses do not reach the heart, stopping beating briefly.
These alterations in the normal heart rhythm cause symptoms such as tiredness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, chest pains, shortness of breath, headaches, palpitations… and if a cardiac arrest occurs, the patient’s life can be endangered.
It is in these cases that alterations occur in the electrical impulses that regulate the heart, if it is not possible to solve the problem by medication, it is then when the use of the pacemaker is resorted to.
What is a pacemaker?
The pacemaker is a small electronic device that monitors the electrical impulses of the heart and, if it detects that they fail (occurring too slowly or not occurring) emits small electrical impulses to regulate the heart rate and make the heart beat normally.
Although there are several models of pacemakers, they all consist of a pulse generator, which consists of a small box with a microchip and a battery that provides the necessary current for its operation, and small cables called electrodes, which connect the generator to the heart, whose function is both to detect the pulses of the heart itself and to transmit those that the pacemaker generates when necessary.
The pacemaker is implanted under the skin, usually in the area under one of the clavicles, in a very safe and relatively simple surgery that lasts about an hour and is usually performed under local anesthesia.
Postoperative and revisions
Once the pacemaker is implanted, it is necessary to perform periodic check-ups to make sure it works correctly. These reviews are recommended at least twice a year.
In addition, the pacemaker battery usually lasts between 5 and 10 years approximately, depending on its characteristics and the permanent or intermittent use required by the patient, so these reviews are important to detect when the battery is running low and to schedule in advance its replacement with a new one.
The replacement of the battery is done by surgery similar to the first, but it is usually even simpler because it is usually not necessary to move the electrodes that are connected to the heart, just replace the generator with the battery for a new one.
Precautions to be taken when carrying a pacemaker
In general, people with pacemakers can lead a normal life, although some precautions should be taken into account, including:
- Pacemakers are protected against external interference and most everyday electrical devices can be used without risk, although it is recommended to keep mobile phone away from the pacemaker at least 15 cm. In less common situations that may cause momentary interference, they disappear when moving away from the source.
- Pacemakers can be affected by strong electromagnetic fields, so heavy machinery cannot be manipulated, neither engines with powerful magnets, etc… You cannot use drills or other machines that emit vibrations, or electrical machines without grounding.
- You must warn that you have a pacemaker when you go to the doctor or when you go for diagnostics or therapies, since some medical equipment cannot be used with patients with a pacemaker. On the other hand, you can use X-rays.
- You can practice some sports moderately and with certain precautions, consult your doctor.
- In the event that you detect that some symptom before the pacemaker reappears, a slow pulse, skin changes in the area of the pacemaker or persistent fever for no apparent reason, see the doctor as soon as possible.
- If your doctor has told you that you need to take medication for heart disease, it is still necessary, even if you have a pacemaker.
- Remember to go to the check-ups periodically, even if you do not notice any symptoms, since this is the only way to control the pacemaker’s condition.
- If you are traveling by plane, notify in the baggage control that you carry a pacemaker. In the safety arcs the pacemaker is detected as a metallic object.
- Do not forget to carry the pacemaker identification card at all times.
In any case, your doctor will indicate more accurately and completely all the precautions you must take when carrying a pacemaker, and if you have any questions about it, also consult your doctor.
Pacemaker implantation at Vithas Xanit International Hospital
In case you need the implantation of a pacemaker, at Vithas Xanit International Hospital we have specialists of recognized prestige that, together with the latest pacemaker technology, allow us to obtain the most reliable results in this type of surgery. Contact us if you desire more information or make an appointment.